Published: Thu, March 28, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Algerian Army calls for removal of president

Algerian Army calls for removal of president

Algerians waited on Wednesday for a decision by the constitutional council on whether ailing President Abdelaziz Bouteflika is fit for office, after the top army officer called for his removal in a bid to defuse mass protests.

The declaration by Gen. Ahmed Gaid Salah, in a speech carried on state television, was the latest sign that Bouteflika's core allies were increasingly seeing his departure as the way to solve Algeria's biggest political crisis in decades.

Article 102 stipulates that the country's Constitutional Council shall meet and then propose to the parliament to declare the inability of the president to exercise his functions due to verified, serious and enduring illness.

In a sudden twist to Algeria's political saga, some of the pillars of Abdelaziz Bouteflika's long-standing regime are withdrawing their support for the 82-year-old president, who now rarely appears in public since suffering a stroke in 2013.

"The Democratic National Rally recommends the resignation of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika according to the fourth paragraph of the article 102 of the constitution", a statement from the party said.

The move would potentially clear the way for elections to be organised in the coming months unless the president recovers.

Since protests began, the Algerian army has distanced itself from Bouteflika as the president continues to cling onto power.

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The military chief has now urged the country to activate constitutional provisions to ease Mr Bouteflika out of office without crisis.

If the measure to declare him unfit is approved by a two-thirds majority in parliament, Bouteflika would be forced to step down.

This will hit at the heart of the issue, which is that Bouteflika needs high oil prices to keep subsidizing his autocratic rule, and he's not getting them.

"We want a real democracy, not a facade of a democracy", said postal worker Zakaria Jaziri.

State bank employee Djamel Hadidi, 37, said: "We welcome the army's initiative but we do not want Bouteflika's men to govern us until the next election". The protesters demanded, who started by demanding the withdrawal of Bouteflika's candidacy have since called for an entire change of the political system.

The new prime minister, Noureddine Bedoui had also pledged to create an inclusive government of technocrats in a country dominated by veterans of the 1954-1962 war of independence against France, as well as the military and business tycoons.

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